In the barrenness and cold of winter, I traveled for the first time to Russia. I wrote this poem on a Soviet train as we wound through the Russian woods and farmland from St. Petersburg to Moscow. My first train ride through the former Soviet Union overflowed with the romance of high adventure, set against the winterscape of the vast frozen tundra of the Land of the North. You will follow my random thought process as I wrote the poem while covering hundreds of miles dotted with Russian villages and snow- covered land.
The ironic twist at the end is quite unexpected.
I relished the romance
of riding a sleeper train
from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
Antiquated engine lapping
the miles at night,
speeding me to dawn’s destiny.
cradled sleepy dreams
of Russian villages nestled
hard and warm against the snow.
Poet and doctor, Zhivago’s train
teaming through miles of
Russian pristine winterland.
A refuge and rendezvous,
crystal palace of icicles and snow,
frozen in time by forbidden love.
But the train’s romance derailed
at the thought of
thousands of Jews
packed into boxcars like living
stinking fish smothered into rusty tin cans
sentenced to death camps
to die for one man’s rancor
and the calling to bless the earth.
a generation removed,
just ruined trains for me.